Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Health Insurance Remains an Issue for Students and Recent Grads

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Health Insurance Remains an Issue for Students and Recent Grads

Article excerpt

The summer months and the period following graduation can leave some college students and recent graduates scrambling to find affordable, yearround health insurance if they lack coverage under a school or parents health plan.

A nationwide poll by AgileHealthInsurance.com revealed that more than 70 percent of college students and recent graduates reported having difficulty finding affordable insurance coverage. Many students cited expensive premiums and high out-of-pocket costs as impediments to affordability.

"Uninsured students and graduates face significant and enduring education-related costs and, as a direct result, have very limited budgets for health insurance coverage," said Bruce Telkamp, founder and chief executive officer of AgileHealthInsurance. com. "Our research in this area has consistently shown that unless they can find major medical insurance for under $100 per month, most will forgo health coverage and become uninsured."

For the nearly four million students graduating from higher education institutions and the 20 million students on their summer break, the cost of health insurance can be a burden, particularly for low-income students or graduates who face impending student loan repayments, the company said. The penalty for not having health insurance in 2018 is 2.5 percent of household income or $695 per adult, whichever amount is higher.

AgileHealthInsurance.com is a company that educates consumers on the availability of private market health insurance options that are alternatives to Affordable Care Act plans. The company markets short-term health insurance plans as an "optimal" and affordable choice for students lacking coverage during the summer months or for graduates waiting for job-based benefits to begin.

However, health insurance policy experts recommend that students or recent graduates select an insurance plan based on their available financial resources and a plan's coverage.

"Insurance and medical care is expensive, and so having these income-related programs that can help lower those costs is really critical," said Dr. Linda J. Blumberg, an Institute Fellow in the Health Policy Center at the Urban Institute.

Low-income students may benefit from insurance options through Medicaid as many states have expanded their eligibility requirements. Currently, 33 states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid to low-income residents.

"A lot of students might be surprised to learn that if they're on their own - they're not a dependent of their parent anymore - they might be eligible for Medicaid depending on what state they're in," said Sabrina Corlette, a research professor at the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute.

"Medicaid is not just a more affordable option for students, but [it is] much more generous and comprehensive in coverage than what you might be able to get under a student health plan," Corlette added. …

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